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Unit information: Thatcherism's Legacy: The Political Economy of Britain Since 1990 (Level H Special Subject) in 2015/16

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Unit name Thatcherism's Legacy: The Political Economy of Britain Since 1990 (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37009
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Aled Davies
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This special subject studies the legacy of Thatcher and Thatcherism for British politics and policy from the fall of Thatcher in 1990 through to the New Labour governments. Exploring the twin filament of that legacy, that is both for the Conservative Party (initially in government and then opposition) and for New Labour (initially long in opposition and latterly in government), this unit provides a political economy of contemporary Britain with a sharp focus on the political contest and on government economic and social policies. With the reconvergence of British politics towards the centre ground in the 1990s, this unit examines the continuing difficulties experienced by the Conservative Party in developing a sustainable post-Thatcher governing strategy and why and how from its genesis New Labour absorbed not just the neo-liberalism of Thatcherism but important elements of Thatcher's statecraft.


  • To place students in direct contact with the current research interests of the academic tutor
  • To enable students to explore the issues surrounding the state of research into the legacy of Thatcher and Thatcherism for British politics and policy
  • To develop further students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop further students' abilities to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis
  • To develop further students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • Developed an in depth understanding of the legacy of Thatcher and Thatcherism in British politics and policy
  • Become more experienced and competent in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources
  • Become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment.

Teaching Information

  • 10 x weekly 2 hour seminar
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

1 x 3500 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

  • Clarke, H.D. et al., Political choice in Britain. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • Coates, D., Prolonged labour: the slow birth of New Labour Britain. (London: Palgrave, 2005)
  • Heath, A.F., Jowell, R.M. and Curtice, J.K., The rise of New Labour: party policies and voter choices. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)
  • Heffernan, R., New Labour and Thatcherism: political change in Britain. (London: Palgrave, 2001)
  • Keegan, W., The prudence of Mr Gordon Brown. (Chichester: John Wiley, 2003)
  • Ludlam, S. and Smith, M.J., Governing as New Labour: policy and politics under Blair. (London: Palgrave, 2003)
  • Hay, C. (2007) 'Whatever happened to Thatcherism?' Political Studies Review, 5.2: 183-201